Niksen-The Dutch art of doing nothing

niksen

It’s always amusing when a single word from a foreign language kick starts an entire lifestyle trend, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Sometimes all a person needs is a little bit of inspiration, or a spark of encouragement, to make changes they’ve been craving all along.

Do you remember hygge, the Danish concept of coziness that captivated people’s imaginations?

Or lagom, the Swedish idea of living in moderation and friluftslivb- the concept of open-air living?

And more recently one heard of dostadning, a.k.a. Swedish Death Cleaning, or the act of slowly and steadily decluttering one’s home as the years go by.

And now another word is making its way into wellness headlines, and this time hailing from the Netherlands.

The word is ‘NIKSEN‘ and it “literally means to do nothing, to be idle or doing something without any use.

Why is it so valuable, you may ask? Well, for one, it stands in stark contrast to the way in which most people live these days, rushing around from dawn till dusk with an unending to-do list.

The duties never end. We do this, despite knowing how unhealthy it is, depriving us of downtime, of sleep, of time to think, of time spent with family and engaging in hobbies.

Whereas mindfulness is about being present in the moment, niksen is more about carving out time to just be, even letting your mind wander rather than focusing on the details of an action.

Practicing niksen could be as simple as just hanging around, looking at your surroundings, simply sitting in a chair looking out of the window, or listening to music —as long as it’s without purpose, and not done in order to achieve something or be productive.

Studies have shown that niksen offers emotional perks — like reducing anxiety — to physical advantages — like curtailing the aging process and strengthening the body’s ability to fight off a common cold.

Another benefit of niksen is that it can help people come up with new ideas, when we do nothing; our brain is still processing information and can use the available processing power to solve pending problems, which in turn can boost one’s creativity.

For many, doing nothing isn’t as simple as it sounds. In fact, it can be somewhat challenging to sit still and stare out a window when one is used to doing something at all times.

But then one has to dare to be idle. It is all about allowing life to run its course, and to free us from obligations for just a moment. We need to train our minds to wander in a way that’s imaginative and creative. Some “gateway” practices to niksen could be taking a walk in nature, gardening, and reducing tech tine or just meditate.

Niksen gives a name to a concept I already embrace at home. I adore lazy weekends with my family, when there is nothing on the docket and nowhere to be. My favorite evenings are the unscheduled ones, when I can lie on the couch and read a novel. I suppose one might call that productive, but to me its pure idleness and I love it.

Niksen is the antidote to stress and burnouts.

Niksen is giving you permission to hibernate without an intention.

Niksen is taking time off to embracing life’s pauses.

 

M

 

 

OS:PC-Treehugger

Live your life in ‘Awe’

awe life

Have you ever wondered about your life and the direction it’s headed? Do you find yourself wondering how to make your life less mundane and more meaningful? Do you find the popular notion that ‘meaning’ is mysterious and hard, and it feels big and scary?  Yeah, right?

So what does this ‘meaningful life’ look like to you?

Do you picture wise sages cloistered in remote caves meditating on the deepest questions of the universe, or larger than life crusaders changing the world with their heroic acts of will.

It’s no wonder that so many of us worry that perhaps our smaller scale lives don’t measure up to a ‘meaningful life’. And to top it off it seems like every self-help blog harps on the idea of finding ones purpose. Without it, life seems pretty meaningless.

When you were younger you enjoyed the freedom to have a lot more fun. You enjoyed your work life and found time to enjoy with your friends. Agreed, that fewer responsibilities earlier allowed you to make the most of your time and your life. Nobody in their youth ever gave much thought to this pertinent question on the meaningfulness of life.

But as you matured, the responsibilities also took on a whole new level; not only are you looking after your children but some of you are also faced with the additional responsibility of taking care of your aged parents who are now unable to take care of themselves. This makes it rather impossible for you to take time off at will and enjoy your life to the fullest, like you did when you were younger.

But come to think of it rationally, isn’t whatever you are doing everyday valuable to someone? Whether it is for your children or for your parents? Don’t you feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at the end of the day when you retire for bed, as you see your family completely at ease and contented?

It is the values that you have imbibed from the previous generation, the values of Authenticity, Dependability, Integrity, Selflessness and Reliability that make your life exceptionally priceless and meaningful.

Don’t forget to recognize the fact that your life is already way more meaningful than you give yourself credit for. Rather than focus on the questions to live a more meaningful life, you should stop and reflect to recognize the many moments that already give you a sense of direction and accomplishment.

Simply having a lot to do around the home while you are a stay-at-home parent such as indulging in some hobby to tap on your creativity can keep you and your mind busy. Occasionally, meeting old friends or even chatting with neighbours can cause people to feel their lives are much more meaningful.

Sitting in nature and enjoying the beauty of the trees changing colour, watching flowers of different hues or even people-watching can relieve the stress of the day to day life and boosts peoples’ sense of meaning.

Stop trying to find yourself. Life itself is trying to teach you something.

The meaning of life is to find the moments of awe.

What is awe, you ask?

It’s the pauses you take between sentences. It’s the moments of silence when you’re watching the rain outside. It’s the moments where you breathe. It’s the moments where you can be human.

When life get too overpowering and you feel lost, all you have to do is stand still, watch and listen to the world around you. There is awe everywhere.

Awe is the spark you feel when you meet a lover.

Awe is the conversation between long lost friends.

Awe is holding your newborn baby.

Awe is the piping hot food on your table after a hard days’ work.

Awe is the feeling of restfulness after a good nights’ sleep.

Awe is your dog wagging his tail when you return from work.

Awe is the exhilaration of screaming “Yes!!” after you’ve completed a challenging task.

Awe is looking out at nature and cherishing its raw beauty.

Awe is being grateful.

Awe is whatever you want it to be.

So if you frequently fret about the meaning of your life, rather than worry about finding a grand purpose, spend some time to look for the moments of ‘awe’ that already exist all around you. Simply noticing them is all you need for a much greater sense of meaning.

Life does give you many moments to be and more importantly feel beautiful.

madhavi:)